Orem approves zone, deliberates construction of Midtown

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    By Jillian Ogawa

    At the end of November, the Orem City Council approved zoning for a new building that would allow the mixed development project Midtown to be built, but the council has not yet approved finite construction of the development.

    “Orem is growing up and we”re running out of space to grow up,” council member, Les Campbell told the council. “We have to face a decision where we have to grow up.”

    Midtown Village development is similar to Provo”s Riverwoods; it would have a mix of residential, office and commercial space. The propose site would be at 320 S. State Street and would replace the existing mobile homes and Extreme Sports with 228 condominiums, 62,764 square feet of commercial space and 78,560 square feet of office space.

    “It provides opportunity for people to live, work, shop, and play all in one area without having to make multiple car trips,” said Larry Myler, president of Tower Development Services.

    With the approval of the zone, Midtown may build 20 percent of their buildings up to 96 feet. Currently, most commercial buildings along State Street are only two stories high.

    Myler said buildings along State Street and Orem Boulevard would be at 60 feet, but the height of the buildings would increase toward the center.

    Orem”s main commercial zone is along State Street, which is only 22 blocks long and 2 blocks wide. To add more along State Street, commercial development buildings will go up instead of expanding the zone out, said council member Doug Forsyth.

    Forsyth also said the decision on applying the zone would set the tone of the city for the next 30 years.

    “We (the council) hope when we make this decision that it is the correct decision, but only time will tell if it is,” Forsyth said.

    Stanford Sainsbury, director of development services, said the council could have approved the actual construction of Midtown rather than just the zone, but the council is waiting for the approval from the planning committee of the project”s 7.8 acres.

    Campbell, the only dissenting vote, was reluctant to approve the zone because he felt there was not enough input form Orem residents. His concern is that the neighbors of the potential Midtown have not had adequate information about the development.

    But Myler said the decision gives a positive outlook.

    “I think the council is excited about cleaning up crime, blight and the tax base,” Myler said. “And Orem city is trying to be progressive in bringing this into the city.”

    Myler said Orem residents initially had concerns about traffic and the buildings blocking view of the mountains, but the company has done studies to address the concerns.

    The streets can handle the traffic and the residents are not losing much of a view, he said.

    He said people tend to initially be against major projects that happen in the city, but end up liking it when it goes up.

    But Orem resident, Rod Lewis, still had some concerns about how the council is handling the changes of building zones.

    “They are customizing city ordinance for this project,” Lewis said.

    “No matter what, we are going to change,” Forsyth said. “A viable city can”t stay stagnant.”

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